HSV-1 is the most common type of herpes simplex virus infection (HSV), while HSV-2 is the main. HSV-1 is the most common cause of cold sores, which can appear during stress or sleep deprivation. HSV-2 is usually responsible for genital sores. HSV-1 can also cause genital sores, but these are less common and more likely to recur.
It can take up to seven days for symptoms to appear after someone has been exposed. Initial symptoms present as redness, tingling, and small, painful bumps. These can progress to fluid-filled “blisters” that will eventually burst and form shallow skin ulcers that then crust over. This takes a few weeks to heal. Initial genital herpes infections can be extremely painful and cause severe fatigue, body aches, fever, and pain. Recurrent infections tend to produce less severe symptoms. Rarely, genital herpes infections can cause inflammation in the membrane covering the brain (meningitis).
Transmission occurs only through symptomatic people, wrong.
It is possible to be exposed to the virus and transmit it to another person without ever experiencing symptoms. That’s because the virus can be found in genital fluids without any ulcers and is constantly transmitted through these fluids. This is known as “asymptomatic shedding of virus” and it is more common than sores. Many people infect others unknowingly because of the absence of sores or ulcers. Only one in four people who test positive for genital herpes know they have it before getting tested others are usually shocked to find out.
If you have genital ulcers get tested
If you are suffering from genital ulcers you must visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis in case it is herpes. The first line of treatment is antiviral medication, antivirals reduce the span of infection, and the earlier a course is started the more effective it will be. These medications are also used for genital herpes prophylaxis.
For a known case of herpes, the person’s partner should get tested to check if they have been exposed to the same strain. If the test comes out negative, the infected partner should take daily antiviral therapy to prevent the possibility of infecting their partner. Even though daily antiviral therapy reduces the risk of spreading the virus, it is not a guarantee. It’s better to have open conversations with your new partner to prevent putting them at risk.
Do asymptomatic people need to get tested?
Is it worth getting screened for herpes if you do not have genital ulcers and have never been exposed? the preferable answer would be yes. Screening is not only a method for diagnoses but also a very effective method of prevention especially when it comes to changing sexual partners.
As mentioned above asymptomatic shedding is the most common mode of transmission when it comes to HSV-2. A person who tests positive for the virus may have been exposed a long time ago and thus has been shedding the virus in their genital fluids. Such patients can protect their partners by starting antiviral therapy or informing the other person in advance.
Herpes is associated with shame and immense social stigma. False-positive tests are sometimes possible. Such a diagnosis has the potential to ruin the future relationships of a person.
But not all experts agree on the guidelines. Except in the rare case of an HSV-2 false positive, seropositive tests can only be used to identify one of these three conditions:
- The patient has herpes symptoms.
- The patient has herpes symptoms but did not realize it was the root cause.
- A person with the herpes virus may occasionally shed the virus in their genital fluids. Daily tests are the only way to determine if someone is shedding the virus.
Many people fall in the second and third categories. This is why the virus continues to be so prevalent. The following are people who you should strongly consider having a blood test:
- People with any other STIs, such as chlamydia or the human papillomavirus ( HPV), etc.
- People who have a herpes-positive partner, particularly if they are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
- Any person who requests to be tested.
Talk to your doctor if you are unsure about having your test done.